Block 0704 presents a new type of urban housing that attempts to challenge conventional architectural typologies of the apartment block. The block can be reinterpreted as a collection of ‘suburban residences’ that include two levels of spaces offering a separation of common areas and private spaces, a more immediate and effective relationship with the outside, a relatively large covered outdoor area, and the use of natural elements as deciduous trees to moderate the microclimate of each space. The relationship to the street becomes secondary with the arrangement of the spaces suggesting a more introverted experience that also encourages the modern dwellers to maximize use of the space and the relationship between indoors and outdoors. The traditional protruding verandas of the typical apartment block are reintegrated into the main mass of the building becoming an integral part of the interior/exterior spatial experience, both visually and functionally. Consequently the apartments attempt to satisfy contemporary desires which require flexibility, privacy, and a more inclusive relationship with the outdoors.
The area is relatively densely populated and characterized mostly by large residences, as well as a small number of apartment blocks, and full-grown vegetation offering shade during the summer months. It offers the benefits of a small and quiet neighborhood, with the convenience of being within walking distance to the city center.
The building was designed with orientation as one of the primary factors. One concern was allowing for direct sunlight at some point during the day to enter all the apartments and their outdoor spaces. With that in mind all apartments have both interior and exterior spaces facing either east, south, and/or west. Since the street elevation faces north and receives no direct sunlight, the covered verandas are oriented east and west.
All exterior spaces are covered except the cantilevered sections of the balconies that have provisions for trees. The verandas face east and west. Even though they are covered, to avoid overheating during the early and late hours of the day in the summer months, integrated planting pots that extent beyond the envelope of the building and on the periphery of the outdoor verandas, can accommodate deciduous trees that can shade in the summer and allow the sun to penetrate in during the winter months. These trees can act as a brise-soleil regulating the micro climate of the immediate covered spaces, and subsequently of the interior spaces. The outdoor covered areas for each apartment are very generous and are in direct relationship with the interior spaces, offering a more introverted experience making them useable at all times of the day, and for the greater part of the year. Large sliding glass doors allow the interior spaces to expand to the outside, both visually, and weather permitting, functionally. The unobstructed views, between exterior and interior spaces and also towards the outside, help to reinforce the horizontal experience of the space.
The block includes eight apartments, four two bedroom units and four three bedroom units. To allow for all interior spaces to benefit from direct sunlight, and to isolate the more private spaces from the more public ones in each apartment, the units are arranged in two levels, with the bedrooms being on a different level from the living and kitchen areas. The sleeping areas of the smaller units are on the lower level while in the larger units they are situated on the upper level. As a result the common areas from each unit are arranged around the outdoor verandas allowing for all indoor activities to be in close proximity to the outdoor covered area. Consequently in the summer months and when weather allows the outdoor area can become an integral part of the spatial experience of the indoor and outdoor common areas. The two level arrangement allows for double height spaces, especially in the larger units, that allows for even more daylight to penetrate into the living areas. Since all apartments are located at the corners of the block with the common areas receiving equal amounts of daylight from both directions and also from the outdoor verandas and the upper or lower levels.
Bedrooms and bathrooms have multiple operable openings with access to small outdoor verandas with provisions for deciduous trees to diffuse sunlight and provide greater privacy. These multiple openings in each room can allow for cross ventilation minimizing the need to mechanically ventilate these spaces.
The exterior openings have been arranged to allow for cross ventilation, and to allow views to the outside depending on the use of the interior spaces. These have been arranged responding to the function of the perimeter spaces, allowing for sunlight to enter while simultaneously offering the necessary level of privacy when needed. Openings are defined by the absence of exterior enclosure and vary in width.